Coccinella hieroglyphica L.

Hieroglyphic ladybird
© Roy Anderson
Hierglyphic ladybird
© Roy Anderson

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Distribution

Britain:

Scattered throughout in heathy districts.

Ireland:

Widespread in heathery places (Johnson & Halbert 1902).

Ecology

Restricted to damp heather moors because of a dependance upon the heather beetle Lochmaea suturalis as prey.  The latter is not found on coastal dune systems as a rule, since the larva requires wet conditions and shoot succulence to feed successfully.  This in turn probably leads to the exclusion of heather beetle predators such as Coccinella hieroglyphica and Chilocorus bipustulatus from dune ecosystems.
Heather beetle is known to feed preferentially upon senescent or mature plants.  This accords well with observations in the field since larvae of the hieroglyphic ladybird are generally found in wet lagg areas, rather than bog domes or other exposed places, where heather growth is coarser and large mature plants were common.  The corollary also applies.  If heather beetle and its predators thrive where heather growth is more luxuriant, then efficient moor management for game birds, with burning and flailing, probably has the opposite effect i.e. the move to younger growth stages probably limits heather beetle and hieroglyphic ladybird numbers. 
[Burning also serves to remove, as volatiles, much of the nitrogen which has accumulated in heath vegetation as a result of atmospheric deposition.  This further cuts back the potential for eutrophic growth of heather which so often leads to heather beetle infestation.]

Variation

The hieroglyphic ladybird is subject to considerable variation in the completeness and length of lateral markings on the elytra (which give it its trivial name) and in the intensity of ground colouration.  Totally melanic individuals (black) occur relatively frequently in many populations.